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The impact of a simple cardboard box

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Through our Rice Bowl partnership with CRS, we are able to hear the voices of those in need around the globe.


Much of the work that we do at Catholic Charities is aimed at helping those in need within our own community. But struggles do not merely exist in Massachusetts, almost half the world -- over three billion people -- live on less than $2.50 a day. With this in mind, as we have each of the past four years, Catholic Charities has partnered with Catholic Relief Services through their Rice Bowl campaign.

Rice Bowl is an annual CRS Lenten faith-in-action program for families and faith communities. This year and last, CRS and Catholic Charities have partnered with nearly 200 parishes and schools in the Archdiocese of Boston, to support those in need across the world.

What is a Rice Bowl you may wonder? A cardboard CRS Rice Bowl is a tool for families to use to collect their Lenten alms. Each bowl contains a Lenten calendar with one reflection for each of Lent's 40 days. It has recipes for delicious meatless meals from around the world and Stories of Hope from some of the people who benefit from your donation. 75 percent of your Rice Bowl contributions will be used to support CRS programs worldwide, the remaining 25 percent will be used to fund local food pantry programs.

Through our work at Catholic Charities, we hear stories from our brothers and sisters in need throughout our community on a daily basis. Through our Rice Bowl partnership with CRS, we are able to hear the voices of those in need around the globe. In response to those needs CRS sponsors a variety of efforts, including water and sanitation projects that bring clean water to communities; microfinance projects that support small businesses; mother and child health projects that offer health and nutrition services and education projects that provide resources and training.

One such voice is that of Safiata, a mother, grandmother and farmer in Burkina Faso who relies on the money she makes from her crops to put her children through school. Burkina Faso's dry, dusty climate means farming can be difficult. There, clean water is a scarce and precious resource. Even though she had two plots of land to farm, the many months each year without rain made feeding her 9 children and 16 grandchildren a nearly impossible challenge.

This is where CRS steps in. Through contributions from people like you, CRS is able to provide farmers like Safiata with crops like onions that thrive in dry climates. And thanks to a CRS-sponsored irrigation system, her crops will always have the water that they need. That water access means her crops will grow, she will be able to both feed her family, and she'll be able to sell some at the market. Solving one problem for Safiata will help her solve many of the problems that she and her family faces now and will face in the future. Hers is just one story of many which you can learn about at crsricebowl.org. There, you can access videos and guides that help introduce the ways in which our Catholic faith and the American Catholic Church is making a difference all over the world.

To learn more about the impact of this simple cardboard box -- a CRS Rice Bowl -- which inspires prayers, fasting and almsgiving within Catholic families across the U.S., and delivers hope to millions around the world visit CRS.org or check in with your local parish Rice Bowl coordinator.

To learn more about the work we do here at Catholic Charities of Boston visit ccab.org.

Deborah Kincade Rambo is president of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston.

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